July 1

Award-winning jazz band performs Tuesday

The Tucson Jazz Institute’s Ellington Big Band, an award-winning jazz band made up of more than 30 young Tucsonans, will perform at the Arizona Senior Academy from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.

In May, the band won Jazz at the Lincoln Center’s “Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band” competition for the second year in a row.

“The Essentially Ellington competition is the Super Bowl. It’s the NCAA tournament. It’s the World Series of high school jazz,” said Doug Tidaback, the director of large ensembles at the Tucson Jazz Institute.

And in 2012 and 2010, the group was honored at the same competition with “Best Community Big Band” awards. Jazz at Lincoln Center Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis presented this year’s first-place trophy and a $5,000 award. The three-day event featured 15 finalist bands chosen from among 94 entries.

In Tuesday’s performance, the band will include almost all of the musicians who won at this year’s Essentially Ellington competition. They’ll primarily feature works from the Duke Ellington and Count Basie repertoires but also showcase one or two modern pieces.

The Tucson Jazz Institute is a community music school that provides innovative programs to nurture budding musicians. “Big Bands” is one of these programs. The institute offers music education taught by seasoned professionals in jazz combo, jazz big band and music technology, as well as private lessons for students of all ages.

Youngsters are given the opportunity to play great arrangements and compositions, as well as hone their reading, jazz phrasing and improvisational skills. Students are encouraged to evolve their individual styles, share ideas, record, sit in with instructors on professional performances, and travel. They are routinely taken to jazz festivals and competitions around the world.

Stan Davis

July 2

Historically, ‘Southwest’ should be ‘Northwest’

We refer to our region as the “Southwest,” but is it? Arizona has been in the southwestern United States only since 1847, when the U.S. annexed more than half of Mexico in the Mexican War. To understand the culture and history of the “Southwest” we need to go deep into Mexico and look north.

Wednesday at 3:30 p.m., in the second of a three-lecture series, John Ware, executive director of the Amerind Foundation, will argue that for thousands of years all of the major influences on our history and culture came from the south.

Corn, beans, squash and cotton, along with irrigation agriculture, all came from the south. Ceramic pottery and several architectural styles also came from the south. The religion and important elements of social and political organizations of native peoples have southern origins.

Even the dominant ecosystems of the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts expanded from Mexico at the end of the last ice age. And, of course, the Spanish Empire expanded northward in the 16th century.

Ware is an anthropologist and archaeologist whose research and teaching focus on the prehistory and ethno-history of the northern Southwest, where he has worked for over 40 years. He earned his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Colorado. Ware has been with the Amerind Foundation since 2001.

His most recent book, “A Pueblo Social History: Kinship, Sodality and Community in the Northern Southwest,” was published in March .

The third and final lecture in the series, “Chaco Mystery Solved?” is scheduled for July 9.

Priscilla Moore

July 3

How artists shaped ‘American Character’

In the founding years of the American nation, mental images of great events and leaders were in large part the product of artists, since the age of radio, TV, photography and the Internet had not yet dawned.

Chuck Tampio, an art teacher and longtime student of art history, believes the emergence of what he calls “the American Character” was revealed primarily through paintings.

At 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Tampio will discuss his thesis in an Arizona Senior Academy talk titled “What’s Eating Gilbert Stuart?”

Stuart was the premier painter of portraits of George Washington. The work and experiences of other notable artists such as Wilson Peale also will be discussed.

This illustrated talk shows how artists shaped images in the way they used expression, posture and settings in their portraits to emphasize qualities such as fortitude, resolve, compassion and plainness.

Stuart, best known of these artists, has been the subject of recent research because evidence from his art and his life suggest that he was bipolar and manic. Stuart left America to study in London with artist Benjamin West. He returned to America specifically to cash in on the George Washington craze.

Peale was another great portraitist who also hoped to create the legacy image of Washington. These artists believed that whatever constituted the American character or identity could be best revealed through portraiture.

Tampio’s art background reaches far back from his current role as a docent at the University of Arizona and Tucson City art museums. At Syracuse University, he took multiple art history courses from a renowned art scholar.

Later, he studied art and taught at the University of Parma in Italy. Parma was founded in the 10th century and was a mecca of European art.

This year Tampio was in Italy again, learning about and teaching art.

Brack Brown